The Port of Caen where car ferry ships dock is Ouistreham on the coast of the Bay of Seine, 15km north of Caen, accessed via fast dual carriageway. Brittany Ferries and P & O Ferries operate daily ferry services from Portsmouth to Caen. Both ferry services dock at the Transmanche Terminal, situated on the west bank of the outer harbour. Transmanche is also used for the shipment of freight with 2.5m tonnes shipped in 2003. Ouistreham not only has excellent road links to the rest of Normandy, but also to Paris, Brittany, the Loire, and South-West France.
Ouistreham Attractions. At the end of a canal that links Caen to the sea, Ouistreham is an active seaside resort and a paradise for sports lovers, whether on the sea or land. There is also a Sea Water Therapy Centre and Casino. Take a stroll among 18th century fisherman s houses nestling in narrow streets. As one would expect, Ouistreham has a good range of hotels, restaurants and bars. Visit the Church of Saint-Samson, built around 1150 and restored in the 19th century. Also the nearby Barn with Said (Tithe Barn), now fully restored - a barn was first documented in 1257. Ouistreham has two museums - the N°4 Commando Museum commemorating the liberation of Ouistreham on June 6, 1944 and the Museum of the Atlantic Wall, the original bunkered German headquarters, now with all rooms restored to their original functionality.
Caen Attractions. Caen is the capital and largest city of Basse Normandie, and lies between the Rivers Orne and Odon. Although badly damaged during its liberation in 1944, Caen has been delightfully reconstructed. Nowadays, it has something to offer everyone, from history and heritage, to busy shopping and pedestrian precincts with big Parisian stores and smaller specialised outlets, to the many restaurants and café s that suite all tastes and pockets. The main market is on Friday and there's also a Sunday market. A bustling University City, Caen has a lots to do and see, day and night. To discover Caen, it's best to stroll through the streets and city squares where you will find secret back courtyards that hide treasures of the city's past. Visit the Church of Saint-Étienne at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes with its two, 295 foot towers topped by 13th century octagonal spires and the lantern-tower, considered a masterpiece. Also the Church of La Trinité at the Abbaye-aux-Dames. Unscathed by the war, both are beautiful Norman Romanesque style structures. The former Exchequer dating from the 11th century, that was the scene of a banquet thrown by Richard the Lionheart en route to the Crusades. Visit a garden replanted with herbs and medicinal plants that were cultivated here during the Middle Ages. Two museums worth visiting are: Musée des Beaux-Arts that gives a potted history of European art and Musée de Normandie, an overview of Norman history from the region's megalithic period to the impact of the Industrial Revolution. Caen has many war museums: the Museum of Peace is one you should not miss.
Ouistreham and Caen & History. The area was invaded by Norsemen during the 9th and 10th centuries. In the 10th century, Caen first became important under the dukes of Normandy. It was William the Conqueror s favourite city and where he and Matilda of Flanders were married. However, because they were distant cousins, the pope excommunicated them. In 1059 they atoned for their sin by each founding an abbey - the Church of Saint-Étienne at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes was founded by William and is where his tomb is located. The Church of La Trinité, at the Abbaye-aux-Dames was founded by Matilda where her tomb is located. Both churches where undamaged during WWII. Ouistreham flourished as a port throughout the Anglo-Norman period and through centuries depended on fishing and farming. In 1346, under Edward III and during the Hundred Years War, Caen was captured by the English. The English, led by Henry VI, again ruled the city from 1417 to 1450 and during this time a university was established. In 1685, the Protestant city s prosperity plummeted as its population emigrated following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. During the French Revolution [1789 to 1799], Caen was the focal point for the anti-Revolutionary Girondist movement. In the 19th century, the 15km long ship canal was constructed. Ouistreham was the most eastern of the D-Day landings and during the Battle of Normandy, June 6 to August 22 1944, Caen became the centre of German resistance to the British-Canadian advance.
Caen Ferry Port - Access. From Brittany or the Loire head for the A84. From Paris or Rouen, take the A13 motorway. Then follow signs to Ouistreham /Car ferry.